Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of May- Blog 5: Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

With it being wedding season, I thought a blog about marriage advice would be appropriate.

Final Thoughts: Do not take marriage lightly.  It is a lot of work!

Have discussions around these points before you get married:
  • Explain your thoughts on religion (remember that you may think this is private but try adding in children and extended families… have you considered holiday traditions)?
  • What is important to you right now?
  • When you envision the future, what does it look like (who is in it, where does it take place, how does it happen)?  Now, all those things you imagine may not happen but what are your non-negotiables (meaning what must you keep and what can you let go to align your dreams)? 
  • What are your goals and how do you plan to achieve them?  How do you want me to help you get there?
  • Here are my goals… how will you support my dreams?
  • This is how I envision our future family to look… how does this fit with how many children you want?  What if one of them has special needs?  What if we can’t have children?
  • How can we make our extended families be a part of our lives?
And then ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to sacrifice your wants and needs to fulfill someone else’s dreams???  Do you love someone that much???

  • What are the things that bother me about my significant other?  And realize that marriage will not make those things go away.  Can you live with those vices?

And when you get married, here is my advice…

1.     You and your partner come first.  Not your parents, not your children, not your friends, you as a couple are foremost in all of your decisions. 
3.     Take time to grow as a couple.  If that means the two of you moving far away and becoming independent, go.  But come back when you have children.  That saying “it takes a village” is true!
4.     After an argument, realize it’s ok to go to bed angry.  Sometimes, you need the time and space to think, reflect, and readdress the issues the next morning.
5.     Make a realistic budget and stick to it.  Plan out your meals weekly.
6.     Cook together (or sit and keep the chef company).
7.     Have dinner as a family, sitting down, without the tv on.
8.     Vacation together, just the two of you at least once a year (meaning leave your children with grandparents and get out of your house for an overnight trip).
9.     Vacation as a family at least once a year (preferably to Disney).
10. Take a date night at least once a month.
11. Go on a girls’ night at least once a month and encourage your spouse to have a guys’ night.
12. Be social.  Have friends and family over for dinner, drinks, barbeques, play dates, sporting events, or just because.
13. Create a welcoming, happy, and warm home.
14. Have at least one hobby that has nothing to do with your significant other or your children.
15. When you feel angry or resentful, speak up.
16. Spend time outside with one another.
17. Support each other.
18. Be honest.
19. Pray together.
20. Hold hands.
21. Say, “I love you” multiple times a day.
22. Affectionately touch each other at least once a day.
23. Compliment each other genuinely on at least one thing everyday.
24. Say, “I’m sorry,” when you mess up and “I forgive you” when your spouse makes a mistake.
25. Use “I” statements instead of blaming each other, “I feel _____ when you ______.”
26. Be patient with your spouse.
27. Uplift your spouse on bad days.
28. Take care of and respect yourself.
29. Have fun!
30. Acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays in a BIG way- never underestimate hand-written cards, scavenger hunts and heartfelt gifts.  Save a few of them- they will tell your love story to future generations.

Remember that no partner will be perfect, including you. Realize that love changes.  That initial passion will fade but it will be replaced with a feeling so much deeper.  The time, energy, and work you put into your relationship will mean more.  Once you make the promise of a union, don’t take it lightly and don’t walk away from it without giving it your all.  Don’t ever take your spouse for granted.  Marriage is a fulltime job.    
Love you Ellie!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of May: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Good Morning Ellie!

Poppy and I are returning home from a wonderful weekend spent in Cape May, N.J.  As he drives on this beautiful and somewhat chilly spring day, I get to type my blog entry for this week.  And thankfully, spending time with Jackie prompted my thoughts.  You see, we went to see a Medium, but unfortunately it did not work out due to some unforeseen reasons.  The Medium (a very interesting gentleman) asked us to reschedule, so we did for August.   Anyway I realized while having a glass of wine with Jackie later that evening, that chatting about the anticipation of seeing him, the tad bit of disappointment from an unsuccessful reading and the excitement of having another opportunity to try again has created another memory of a day in my life that I know would be fun to share at random times in the future!

Final Thoughts:  Make sure to share your important, unusual, silly, and yes quirky daily events with others by either voicing them aloud or documenting them to be read periodically!  Over time our memories can slip a bit El, so my best advice to you is to keep them fresh by sharing your stories.

Your Great Gram Russell is the perfect example of someone who can randomly add to any conversation some amazing stories from her early childhood all the way up to today’s date.  And Ellie, it doesn’t matter if she has shared bits of her life once or a dozen times, her stories are never tiring as they always bring on a desire to hear more!  You my dear little one already have a special gift of remembering your past, and with amazing clarity I might add!  And you are only 4 years of age! 

Example 1: You still have a great disdain for hotdogs and have shared the story repeatedly of the time when you were about 15 months old when your babysitter gave you one and you became very sick.   You actually had the flu Ellie, and as that old saying goes, “that poor old hotdog was in the wrong place at the wrong time!”  If anyone even mentions hotdog to you, you make a distorted face and strongly state, “NO!” 

Example 2:  Last week while taking you (I mean Kalena, as that was your character personality of the evening) to get your haircut, I asked you where you lived since I never had the chance to visit you or your family at your home.  You replied, “Well Miss Mickey, I live where we saw the gingerbread man, the snowman, the reindeer and Santa Claus.”  Not following your thought process at all I responded with, “What????”  You calmly and with full knowledge replied, “Miss Mickey, I live where the train and the park are.”  Dumbfounded I answered, “Do you mean the town of  Bellefonte???”  And of course you confidently responded, “Yes, that is exactly where I live.”  When I reported this little story to your Mommy, she was in ‘awe.’  And that is because you have never been to Kalena’s house.  Apparently though about a year ago you met them for a play date at Talleyrand Park (and the Polar Express Train that we took you and Will on during the Christmas season hosting all the above characters travels right beside the park), which is… yep, you guessed it… in Bellefonte! 

Example 3:  Last week when your Mommy took you to a play date at your friend Teyo’s house, you noticed that he had a lightsaber.  Upon close examination, you stated that he must have gotten it at the Spikes baseball game the night they had “free give-away’s in honor of Star Wars.”  Ellie, that baseball game also happened a year ago, something most 4 year olds would not remember happening at 3 years of age! 

Example 4:  Apparently on a recent trip to the Mall you informed your Mom about a time when you and I were there and there was a water leak.  Not having any clue as to what you were talking about, she asked me.  I also didn’t have a clue El.  I was drawing a blank (go figure).  Then, she asked you to explain a bit more and you told her that the water leak was between JC Penny and The Gap.  It took a few minutes to register, and when it did Ellie, I was astonished!  You see, that incident also happened well over a year ago.  You and I were walking from The Gap to JC Penny when we passed a 6-foot section in the main corridor that had been roped off due to a small hole in the floor where water had bubbled up and formed a puddle.  It had created a bit of a mess and the yellow tape prevented people from getting too close and possibly slipping.    Who remembers stuff like that???  You of course!  These examples are only a few Ellie of the many you have shared with us.  I could go on and on, but something tells me that you are like a computer.  As you grow older, you will probably be able to ‘click’ on a memory and share it as though it just happened yesterday.

Now if you asked me about something that happened in my life over 50+ years ago, well, I am not sure what my problem is, but I have a terrible time remembering events from just last week let alone my childhood (and that’s the way it has always been with me Ellie from my youth till now!).  Anyway, your Aunt Sheri will share a story now and then that pertained to her, your Uncle Stevie and me when we were kids and I will think to myself, “Huh, was I really there because that story is not registering in my brain at all!”  A friend at work tried reassuring me once (probably more often but I honestly don’t remember) that it has nothing to do with my long term memory being vacant, she also said my short term memory can be just as bad!  Humph… I think it is because I never realized the importance of categorizing information and ‘locking it in!’  But ever since you were born, I have been trying harder… hence the blogs!

Ellie, when it comes to remember past moments in your life with great detail it would not surprise me at all if you were identified with having an eidetic memory.   That means to have the ability to recall images, sounds or objects in memory with great precision.  If this turns out to be true, use it wisely.  And if not, start voicing and penning daily life’s events.  You, your children, your grandchildren and so on will appreciate the memories and the stories!  As Daniel Wilson once stated, “Memories eventually fade, but words hang around forever!”

I love you Little Miss Hard-drive!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of May: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

Mother’s Day just passed and I wanted to share how we are faring as a family of 4.

Final Thoughts: With regards to children, the hardest transition is going from 0-1. 

After that, it’s all logistics.  In fact, you will feel more comfortable with that 2nd take-home baby- you know what’s normal and what to panic about.  I felt more calm and relaxed with Will.

Bringing home your first take-home baby is life changing.  And just like the first child, adding another takes planning.

1.     Get up to shower before your children.  You will feel much more productive (otherwise, there is no guarantee you will find the time to get dressed).
2.     Don't worry that you don’t document first foods and teeth coming in with that 2nd take-home child.  Baby books and journals are time consuming.  Do what you can but don’t take away precious time from your little loves.  Or document it unconventionally (for instance, through pictures).
3.     It’s ok that you have different wishes for that 2nd take-home baby… I don’t think I’m a terrible person for wishing that Will wasn’t crawling or trying to pull himself up at 7 months.  I was hoping for another 130 days of a child who doesn’t move.  
4.     Homemade isn’t the only type of food that is made with love- take-out and premade baby food is bought with love straight from my heart.
5.     Naptime does not mean free time anymore.  Because you were 3 ½ when Will was born, you didn’t nap anymore Ellie.  Now I could have told you to rest or have quiet time but I felt a sense of guilt (MOM GUILT… ugh) so when Will sleeps, you and I do arts and crafts or play.  You and I both enjoy this time.  However, when you were a baby, that was the time when I cleaned, read, wrote, checked email, made phone calls… basically I had two times a day where I had a free hour and half to catch up.  
6.     You need to add an extra half hour to your morning routine.  To get an extra person ready for the day, you must add a bit more time.
7.     You need to add a half hour to your bedtime routine for the same reason.
8.     Plan a lot more into your budget.  With a baby like Will, he eats a crazy amount of food.  And with an extra body in the family, you might need a slightly bigger car (baby seats are huge and take up the whole backseat).
9.     Continue being social.  Going out with an extra person is a bit harder, but we still do it (otherwise, we would go crazy).  Invest in a front carrier (which is how I grocery shop with Will while you are in the cart).

10. Meals out to restaurants are really hard.  Will is at the age where he eats quickly (and is really messy) and he doesn’t want to sit still in a high chair.  We don’t mean to bring chaos everywhere we go but frankly, we do now.
11. Visit your family and friends who are far away.  Children grow and change so fast that you want those that mean the most to you to be apart of all the stages.  You and Will just traveled with me to Florida and Philadelphia to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Although the travel time can be hectic, it is completely worth all of the happiness and memories we create.  Also invest in an iPad for the journey. 

12. Connect with other moms.  Because my schedule revolves around you and Will, it’s nice to connect with others who can barbeque early because of bedtime and understand meltdowns after lunch playdates.
13. Have a babysitter on your speed-dial who can help you in a pinch (and a back-up)- romantic dates with your husband and girls’ nights out with your friends are a must once a month! 
14. Realize that your living space, no matter how big, will be full of toys and fingerprints (and relish in that moment because you will come to miss those little hands in the years to come).
15. Your purse will become a bag of tricks or Mary Poppins carpet bag depending on the day.  You will dig through toys, wipes, and food when you try to find your wallet when checking out at the grocery store.
16. You will appreciate how powerful your body is physically and emotionally (although mentally, you may feel like you lost a few brain cells).  And you will be so surprised at how little sleep you actually need to function.
17. You realize how much you can tune out… and after bedtime how beautiful silence really is.
18. Confidence (or the act of) in your choices is an art form.  People won’t question your decisions if you are firm. 
19. Try to take family pictures.  It’s hard but you will be so appreciative of them later, especially if they are of your children interacting.  Watching you love Will means so much to me!

20. Mother’s Day is hands down one of the best holidays of the year.

I don’t think I have fully grasped the responsibility of raising two children.  Thank God, I have a village to help me- the women who taught my by example and those who guide me daily.  To all of them, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day and a big thank you hug!

Love you Ellie,
Mama (as you affectionately call me and I find it so endearing)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Final Thoughts Month of May: Blog 2- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi El!

As I see you and Will each day, I am in awe of how beautifully you both are growing.  There are moments when I secretly wish ‘time’ would freeze, but that thought always, and quite quickly I might add, disappears when I realize that then there would be no future “Ellie-isms” or “Ellie-characters” or “Ellie-talk” to name a few.  Your personality is truly one-of-a-kind El, and I know I’ve said this many times but you really do keep us on our toes!  Watching you grow and mature is a real joy, as well as an experience.

Final Thought:  Don’t grow too quickly Ellie.  Enjoy each moment that life has to offer.  Your life is your garden Ellie.  Imagine it, explore it, create it, have fun with it, and most important… make it beautiful!

Ellie, this week’s blog idea came from our time spent together designing a new craft.  Yep… a garden, but not the real kind (you should know by now that I am the queen of plastic flowers… especially outdoors!).  Anyway, we went to Michael’s and bought a 2-foot long block of green Styrofoam, lots of popsicle sticks both long and short, readymade felt flowers, miniature bumblebees and ladybugs, paint, glue, and plastic insect critters.  After setting up our craft shop in the basement, we started painting some of the short sticks in your preferred choice of colors (pink, green, red, white and brown) for the garden fence.  

We painted about a handful of them before switching to the longer sticks which we planned to use for stems and painted them one color, green (of which somehow got onto the carpet even though we had a 5’ x 5’ plastic tablecloth laid down).  Your comment was, “Oh Mimi you know accidents happen.”   My comment was, “I know El, and I’m so glad we thought to buy Washable Paint!  Oh and let’s not bother Poppy with this tid-bit of information either!”  So we then spread the popsicle sticks out, as they needed about an hour drying time.  Good thing because you were ready to take a break and play something more exciting… like Pirates (I am not too sure that Poppy would be thrilled with us using the basement couch as a boat so we might want to keep that to ourselves also Ellie!).  But it did make bouncing on and off of it easy and fun to attack each other with our homemade paper-towel swords!  I loved how you spoke pirate lingo the whole time too, “Arghhhhhhhhh!”  And me seeking out the little plastic gold treasure balls you kept hiding certainly added to a gazillion giggles!  Satisfied with your pirate performance, you decided it was time to go back to working on the garden a bit.  So we glued some of the fence pieces together and the felt flowers to the stems.  And then you proceeded to jam the popsicle sticks into the Styrofoam with no rhyme or reason.  Once finished, you stepped back and together we admired the first stage of your garden.  It will now be up to you to decide when we will add more accessories to this beautiful handmade creation of yours!

Watching this garden of yours grow over time Ellie will be such a wonderful joy as each ‘moment’ that goes into it with your little hands will also give us a story.   Watching both you and Will grow on a daily basis is also a wonderful joy of mine.  What I see in your beautiful garden of life Ellie is a little girl who is learning kindness, compassion, patience and a sense of adventure.  You are growing beautifully El, may you continue to do so!  Each of your ‘moments’ is always a story.  A best seller I might add!

Love you arghhhhhhh little Ellie-mate!